Game Review: Carrion

Release date: 2020
Version played: PC (via Steam) in 2020

Dubbed a ‘reverse horror game’, Carrion is a 2020 horror/puzzle/action game developed by Phobia Games and published by Devolver Digital. Taking control of a monstrous blob of teeth and tentacles, you are tasked with escaping the science lab you are imprisoned in, and… destroying everything to earn your freedom. By eating humans (and making a real mess, I might add) the monster evolves in size and strength across a vast complex, gaining new abilities by finding other research chambers which allows entry to previously inaccessible areas.

+ simple but gorgeous and reactive graphics. Blood and gore abound after any action sequence, particularly when it’s just some scientists going about their business. The locations are varied and detailed, and will most certainly be destroyed beyond repair on your way through
+ the sound design is great, both the music that plays as you stalk your prey and the horrible screams elicited from whoever sees you. Gun shots crack, miniguns have that great high-pitched whirls and your dedicated taunt button is great for ambiance or distracting enemies.
+ there are a few great puzzles, which made me really think about things. The monster can ‘devolve’ to a smaller creature with different abilities to bypass puzzles or locks; for example, while the larger monster can bash through walls, the smaller can shoot a web-like glob to hit far off switches
+ these abilities also translate to combat, where you could brute force every encounter (like I did, for the most part) or use a more stealthy approach, taking out enemies one by one

carrion_2
YOU are the monster (yes, you, reading this).

– the default button controls on PC are weird and wonky. As all movement is done with the mouse (that part’s fine) your abilities are by default bound to Q, E, Tab and Left Shift, with Space used to interact. I did spend the majority of the game only using E (the offensive power), but it still felt clunky
– I think I understood the (relatively short) story, but there is no dialogue or even speech boxes in the game so I can’t be entirely sure. A few story-heavy scenes punctuate key moments, but the rest is environmental story telling. The nature of the game disallows ‘apocalyptic logs’ as the trope names them, or accessing computers and the like but I still feel like I was missing something
– enemies do not respawn upon returning to older levels (to finish all collectibles, etc.) which was a bit disappointing. It makes sense, but I would have liked some enemies to try out my more powerful skills on

> I originally took the title card from the game itself to use as the image for this review, but I considered it a spoiler. Better safe than sorry

Should you play this game: Yes. This whole game is sort of like the finale of INSIDE, stretched across 6 or 7 hours. Stalking prey, solving puzzles and the general feel of the game is a lot of fun and well worth playing, though perhaps wait for a price cut. Taunting the terrified nerdy scientists made me feel like only slightly less of a monster than the titular character of the Untitled Goose Game (Carrion is also available on Switch!).

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